Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #130. Trio — Fatbike World Championships

Bikes and beers!? Heck yes! Make it fat-bikes and a couple of growlers, and now you have a party in Alaska. Last weekend I participated in the epic fat-bike race called the Trio – Fatbike World Championships in Talkeetna put on by Speedway Cycles and Denali Brewing.  The name Trio is symbolic of the three mountains you can see during the ride, Denali, Mt. Hunter and Mt. Foreaker. The sixth annual bicycle and beer super party celebrates the life of Mike Sterling who passed away from liver disease a few years back.

The weather couldn’t have been better! The sun was out, and there was plenty of fresh snow to validate the use of my 5-inch wide tires. I felt fast and also pretty glad I opted out of the 60-mile race and settled for the 30-mile loop. Next year, I will attempt to do the sixty, but will have to do some upgrades to my bike. The last ten miles were a bit rutted and pretty soft. My single speed was not in the proper gear for climbing, but it looked like it was pretty impossible to ride up most of the bluff trail anyway, so like everyone else, I pushed. I was pleased with my 20th place finish.

For those less serious about racing and more serious about partying there was a 20-mile party lap option with beer, whiskey, and other treats provided around a raging bon fire half way down the trail. There was even a helicopter that landed right on a patch of snow on the river next to the party. Its mission was to deliver some more beer! As I passed the partiers, I should have stopped for a beer, but at the moment I rode through I thought I could actually get a pretty decent time, so I forewent one of my favorites — free PBR, to save drinking points for the delicious after party beer that Denali Brewing brewed up –Trio Pale Ale. The beer is a wonderful 6.5% ABV and 52 IBU pale ale that was brewed with cryo Mosaic and Citra hops. At the big after-race-party everyone was starving, and good Indian food was served up, and the band Hope Social Club played right after the awards ceremony. Racers still had plenty of energy left for dancing.

The next morning Denali came out of the clouds for the first time that weekend, so we went to Talkeetna River and took the photos for this painting. Denali never looked better! If this painting looks familiar, that’s probably because you saw the one that is very similar on the big office window at Speedway Cycles. I created that one several years ago and Greg Matyas printed it on the privacy screen.

This painting depicts three things I love: fat-biking, beer, and Talkeetna! Cheers to good times with good friends!

The original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

fat bikers beer denali trio fat biking race painting Scott Clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #130. Trio – Fatbike World Championships. 12″x24″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel


Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #129. Deschutes Brewing Growler on the Red Chair at Mt. Bachelor

I remember when Red Chair NWPA came in a 22 oz bomber, and was dubbed an IPA.  I loved the graphics on the bottle!  Since I’m a skier, I bought a bunch of these and included this beer in the original 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall painting series.  I revisited the production version rebranded NWPA for North West Pale Ale as my 13th Thirsty Thursday beer painting, pictured at Arctic Valley Ski Area up here in Anchorage, Alaska, since we have two beautiful Riblet red chairs nearly exactly as pictured on the NWPA label.  A month ago we were cruising around Oregon and Maria and I hit up Mt. Bachelor to ride the “real” red chair that inspired this delicious ale.  The original double chair was installed in 1964, and upgraded to a triple chair in 1981.  Unlike the cushy modern quad chairs, this one comes at you fast and hot, and you better be ready for it, or it will knock you right down on your face!  During our lunch break on the mountain I ordered a pint of… you guessed it… Red Chair NWPA.  Maria and I shared a burrito that was larger than my head!  Sure tasted great with the NWPA!  The next day I went to Deschutes Brewery in downtown Bend and bought this growler, because it’s so cool, and I thought it would look good on the vintage chair in a beer painting.  The Deschutes pub glass looks right at home riding the chair as well (how else do you think they get beer up the mountain?).
Cheers to riding the cool red chair!  Raise your NWPA high to keeping the traditions alive!  May your ski day be epic, and your Après ski be well-earned!

This original oil painting and 52 limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter. 

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #129. Red Chair NWPA by Deschutes Brewery. 11"x14", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #129. Red Chair NWPA by Deschutes Brewery. 11″x14″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel

Our 5 Favorite Experiences in Oregon

~ by Maria Benner

We recently returned from a two-week trip to Washington, Oregon and Arizona.  In Washington and Arizona we visited family, but the reasons for going to Oregon were purely to have fun and to visit good friends from our college years.  Downhill skiing, long walks on the beach, visiting breweries, and eating donuts are all things that make us happy, so that’s what we did in Oregon.  Here are our 5 favorite experiences in the Beaver State.

5. Tillamook Cheese Factory. The last time we were in Tillamook more than 15 years ago, we forgot to bring our wallets to the cheese factory tour, so we couldn’t buy any ice cream at the end of the tour. I did not make the same mistake this time, and got to enjoy a delicious waffle cone with rocky road ice cream fresh from the factory. The new visitors center is under construction, but is scheduled to open sometime in 2018.

4. A donut shop on every corner in Portland.  We had been meaning to try a VooDoo donut for years, but didn’t want to stand in a long line. This time there was no line around 2pm. I ordered the Portland Cream (raised yeast shell filled with Bavarian cream topped with chocolate and two eyeballs, representing the vision of the great city of Portland), and Scott had a traditional cake donut.  Delicious!  Then we found out about the new donut place in town called Blue Star Donuts, so of course we had to test them as well. I ordered the Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk cake donut, and got a bonus Blueberry Bourbon Basil donut for free, because the donuts were not very fresh that late in the afternoon.  I thought they were a bit dense, but Scott liked them more than his VooDoo donut.

Blue Star Donuts things to do in oregon

Blue Star Donuts

3. Craft Breweries. Oregon is a destination for world-class craft breweries that are creating avant-garde recipes, and reinventing the craft brew scene. We visited the new Pelican Brewing facility in Tillamook and Block 15 Brewing in Corvallis.  Block 15 really impressed us with its spot-on hazy IPAs and decadent imperial stouts. In Bend we went to Crux Fermentation Project, Boneyard Beer and Deschutes Brewing. We showed up to Crux during Sundown Hour when all beers are $1 off, and everyone watches the sunset while warming up around the fire pit, or playing lawn games. In Portland we sampled brews at Culmination Brewing, Cascade Brewing Barrel House, Great Notion Brewing, Fat Head’s Brewery, Back Pedal Brewing, and Hair of the Dog Brewing.  Scott painted live at Cascade (click here to read about that).  Every brewery had something unique to offer, and we couldn’t get enough of the fruity, hazy, hoppy IPAs and the barrel-aged sours.

Best breweries in Portland Great Notion Brewing

Tasters at Great Notion Brewing in Portland.

2. Skiing at Mt. Bachelor. We rented ski equipment, and hit the slopes of Mt. Bachelor for the fist time. The resort is only a half-hour drive from Bend. Unfortunately we didn’t have good luck on snow.  There wasn’t much of it, and the groomed runs were icy.  The Summit was closed, so we missed out on skiing a large percentage of the terrain.  The views were incredible though, and we had a great day outside in the sunshine.  We’ll have to come back when conditions are better.

Mt Bachelor ski area

View of Three Sisters from the top of Mt. Bachelor

1. Oregon Coast. We couldn’t go to Oregon without visiting the Oregon Coast, so we booked a hotel room with an ocean view in Rockaway Beach for one night.  We got really lucky on the weather, and enjoyed a five-mile walk on the beach during sunset.  The next day we experienced typical winter weather, but we left it behind as we drove over the mountain pass to Portland.

Oregon Coast sunset rockaway beach

Sunset on the Oregon Coast.

People ask us why we would ever want to leave beautiful Alaska.  Well, we try to only go to remarkable places, and Oregon is definitely one of them.


Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #128. Rondy Brew by Anchorage Brewing Co.

Today is the first day of March, which begins my favorite stage of Alaskan winter — early Spring. We’re still in winter mode, but we get extra daylight, and with a bit of luck the snow is in perfect condition to get outside and play.  Here in Anchorage we have a big festival known as Fur Rendezvous.  Dating back a bit longer than 80 years (originating in 1935), local Alaskans (miners and trappers) traditionally met up for a huge fur auction and a bit of fun.  Today we still don our furs (or fur like garments) as it is still cold outside, only 2 degrees above zero this morning.  The fur auction is still on, but there are so many great events and traditions that it’s hard to name them all.  Maria always buys a Rondy pin, but my favorite tradition is to buy a Rondy Brew from Anchorage Brewing Co.  This year available in pint-size cans and served up in a four pack as well as on draft around town.  I am impressed with this year’s recipe, a nice IPA at 6.4% with 55 IBUs.  Brewed with Mosaic (one of my favorite aroma hops) and Idaho 7, which is new to me, but seems to be just right for drinking while watching the fireworks display.  Maybe don’t have more than one before getting on the Tilt-a-Whirl at the annual Rondy Carnival.  Best save that for afterwards!  This weekend is the end of the festival, and also the beginning of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.  The ceremonial start is this Saturday in Anchorage on 4th Avenue, right in front of our studio building.  If you are in Anchorage, stop by the Real Art is Better headquarters (333 W. 4th Ave, Suite #4) this Saturday, March 3 for some fresh baked cookies, or to warm up.  We’ll be open 10 – 5pm.  Running of the Reindeer, another epic Rondy event is to be held at 4pm.  Don’t delay getting your Rondy-Brew on, as this is a once a year beer, and next year will be changed.  Who knows?  Gabe Fletcher may make a sour lemongrass saison again (also very good, but decidedly different).
Cheers to Rondy — a great festival, and to Rondy Brew — a great beer!

The original oil painting sold. Limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #128. Rondy Brew by Anchorage Brewing Co. 11"x14", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #128. Rondy Brew by Anchorage Brewing Co. 11″x14″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #127. Kriek Ale at Cascade Brewing Barrel House.

Last week when I was in Portland, Oregon, I was lucky enough to be granted permission to paint live at the Cascade Brewing Barrel House.  A few years ago I was introduced to Cascade barrel-aged sour beer at my friend Sam’s birthday dinner in Philadelphia, and I was impressed from my first sip.  Sam is an avid collector of fine beers, so I was able to try not only the Kriek, but the Pêche Fumé, the Elderberry, the Blueberry, and the Cassis, among others.  Yes, the tasting was that remarkable!  Cascade offers a perfect blend between fruit, oak and fermented barley that is simply exquisite!  I chose to paint the Kriek in the taproom, because it is probably the most famous of the Cascade offerings.  I have painted live at breweries many times, and my experience at Cascade exceeded expectations!  The beertender made sure I tasted the most notable beers on the extensive menu.  The staff was amazing, and the beers… well they speak for themselves!  If you haven’t been to the Cascade Brewing Barrel House, you must make a pilgrimage to this beer Mecca, home of the best American sour beer!
Cheers to inventive and creative breweries!

The original oil painting sold. Limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #127. Kriek painted live at Cascade Brewing Barrel House. 8"x10", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #127. Kriek painted live at Cascade Brewing Barrel House. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel

Fur Rondy and Iditarod Open Studio Events

In less than a week, our favorite events begin just in time to help us get through the toughest part of winter — Fur Rondezvous winter festival and Iditarod Sled Dog Race.  Fur Rondezvous has been an annual tradition in Anchorage since the mid 1930s when the town started organizing fun activities to coincide with the miners and trappers coming to town with their yield.  Iditarod is the most famous sled dog race in the world, attracting mushers and spectators from around the globe.  Downtown Anchorage will be transformed into a playground with a carnival, contests, snow sculptures, and a sled dog trail running down 4th Avenue.  Our studio happens to be on 4th Avenue, and we will be open during the busiest times of the festivities.  There will also be a craft fair inside our building — the 4th Avenue Market Place.  Stop by and check out the view of the carnival (hopefully Denali will be visible as well), to see the newest oil paintings and prints, and to have some home-baked cookies while you warm up between events.  We are located in Suite 4 of the 4th Avenue Market Place, which is in the NW corner inside the building.

When: February 24-25, Saturday and Sunday, 11-6pm AND March 3, Saturday, 10-5pm.

Where: 4th Avenue Market Place, 333 W 4th Avenue, Suite 4.  Inside the building in the NW corner.

Iditarod sled dogs racing downtown anchorage alaska

artist studio Scott Clendaniel Alyeska Resort girdwood painting


Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #126. Melt Down Stout by Root Down Brewing Co.

I think I feel like having a Melt Down right about now.  That’s right, the beer brewed by new Root Down Brewing in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania in a collaboration project with Beer N.E.R.D.s (Network of Educated Refined Drinkers) to remind us all that life is too short to get our underpants in a bind over waiting for a pint.  How many beer lines have you waited in?  I understand it can definitely cause anxiety if you can’t count how many folding chairs there are in front of you.  According to the story behind this beer, which is rapidly becoming a BeerNERDs legend, a gentleman saddled up to the brewery’s bar, and got impatient after waiting for the bartender to serve him, so he stormed off the premises without getting a pint!  He ranted about his experience online, and someone checked the security camera footage to find out how long he actually waited.  Needless to say, people had very little sympathy when they found out the wait was only 107 seconds.  So that’s the reason this beer is 10.7% ABV.
People have melt downs over strange things sometimes, so that is why Root Down and BeerNERDs are giving a big amount of the proceeds to support Main Line Deputy Dog, a non profit that trains and maintains service animals for people with challenges in life.  Root Down has generated over $6,000 for the non-profit so far!  I will donate 10% of sales from this painting and prints to MLDD to help with the cause.  So don’t wait too long before making it into Root Down… You might just have a real melt down, instead of the chocolate oatmeal stout that comes in a cool can with the BeerNERDs logo on it.  My friend Rich from PA sent me a can of this beer, and it knocked my hat in the creek!
Cheers to bartenders who work fast to get us our pints!

The original oil painting sold. 52 limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #126. Melt Down Stout by Root Down Brewing Co. 11"x14", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #126. Melt Down Stout by Root Down Brewing Co. 11″x14″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel